Royal West African Frontier Force

Front cover: Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force v.1, no. 1, July 2011

The Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) was launched in July 2011, filling a gap in the research literature.

Published twice a year (v.1, no. 2 came out in January 2012), the journal may interest military historians and historians of West Africa, as well as family historians with links to the RWAFF.

Editor, Keith Steward, has ensured that the often short articles are well referenced, and illustrated by photographs and detailed maps, where appropriate.

In Issue 2 articles include the Cairo to Kano Aeroplane Flight, November 1st 1925 (the story behind the first plane to land in Nigeria), notes on Major Seth Anthony MBE (1915–2008), the first African soldier to attain King’s commissioned rank in the Royal West African Frontier Force, and part 2 of Brian O’Gorman’s ‘Gone for Bush’—his recollections of daily life in the RWAFF.  A rather longer article, ‘White City, Major-General Orde Wingate’s Special Chindit Force, Burma 1944′ documents the Chindits’ mission in Burma, and is included because the Chindits, who were trained to infiltrate behind Japanese lines, included many West African servicemen.

The journal is available in the Library’s West Room, classmark L559.b.109 [pigeon hole: T.4].


  • Do you have the subscription details?

    • The journal is available directly from the Editor, Keith Steward, to whom I have forwarded your enquiry. Individuals subscribe @ £10 + postage, preferably for two issues.

      • George Blundell-Pound

        Hi Rachel

        My dear old dad was in the RWAFF Gold Coast Regiment and I have a few pictures that maybe helpful and would like to catch up on reading!

        • Dear George,

          I have forwarded your enquiry to the editor of the journal, Keith Steward, who will be very interested to hear about your father.

        • Elizabeth Overton

          My Grandad at the ripe old age of 101 tomorrow was a Captain in the RWAFF and I have been trying to get some photos as it appears my Gran through out all his photos at various moves.
          His name is James Walters.

          If you could help with some pictures that would be great.

        • Rachel, I do not have George Blundell-Pound’s e-mail address; it would not be the first time that I have been overzealous with deleting. Could you retransmit please?


        • I have discovered old memorabilia of my grandfather lieut. RB Cumming, awarded Military Cross. Not sure if there is anything that might interest the organisation.

        • Best wishes from Zambia. I would love to see your photos if possible. My email address is: Please do join our Facebook group in memory of all the African Empire Forces who served in the 2nd World War at: Medal of KAR

        • Please can you share your dads RWAFF pictures on our Facebook Group: MEDAL OF KAR. Thank you , best wishes from Zambia. We also have a museum dedicated to all the British Empire African Forces here in Zambia

    • Hello, I am researching for a script and would like to make contact with Keith Steward. Please could you put me in touch with him?

    • Would it be possible to get information on how to subscribe to the Journal? My father is a veteran of the RWAFF, it would be an excellent boost for him! In fact I expect he would be happy to share his photos. Many thanks.

      • Hello Tim,
        I’ll put you in touch with the editor of the RWAFF journal.

        • Miriam Manners

          My father was in RWAFF and in Burma, S/Sgt Thomas “Cliff” Pickard. Looking for more information about him and would be interested if you could invite the editor of the RWAFF journal to contact me. I have inherited quite a collection of photographs.


  • My sister and I recently gave the Imperial War Museum our father’s memories of his time spent in West Africa and Burma with the Royal West African Frontier Force. It is available to view to the general public in their research and collections room. His record includes personal photographs,newspaper articles, railway tickets, theatre programme, insignia, correspondence etc. I should be delighted to receive a copy of the above journal please.
    Diana Martin

  • Long awaited I hope all available materials fall in place gradually.
    A great untold and poorly narrated experience to the descendants.
    In The Gambia the frontier forces transformed to the Gambia Field Force..
    The War Cemetry is situated at Fajara.
    I am interested in the publication..

    Modou Sarho.

  • The journal is available directly from the Editor, Keith Steward, to whom I have forwarded your enquiry.

  • I have a tankard with the RWA FF arms engraved on it together with 41 MTR RGT WAA 1945. I know my father the late James Wright fought out in Burma at that time as a Staff Captain as a gunner I also have pictures of the troop ships and of the camps out there. I also have his Burma Star medal still in the box it was sent in! I guess that I have some good information about this “lost” part of the war.

    • Dear Christopher
      I shall pass on your message to Keith Steward, Editor of the Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force, as I expect he would be most interested in making contact with you.
      Kind regards
      Rachel Rowe

      • Rachel, I never heard from Chris Wright; would you either pass on his e-mail address to me OR ask him to make contact with me direct.


  • trying to locate a west African frontier force association as my father now 90 was a member.

    • I have forwarded your email to Keith Steward, editor and founder (in 2011) of the Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force, who will, I am sure, wish to make contact with you.

  • mike maccarthy morrogh

    Trying to make contact with Keith Steward with a view to offering him a diary of a WAFF officer from 1901-06. Other WAFF websites tell us to email him directly, but give no email address.
    Thanks for your help.

  • The father of a good friend of mine served in the Royal Artillery/Manchester Regiment (does he mean the ‘Manchester Artillery, currently 103 Reserve Regiment RA), but was also with the RWAFF in India and Burma. Could he have been attached to the 81st or 82nd (West African) Divisions? He is now 94 and increasingly infirm. Born 1922.

    • I have forwarded your enquiry to Keith Steward, Editor of the Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force, who will, I am sure, wish to make contact with you and may be able to answer your query re. Divisions.

  • Adewemimo Adebajo

    Please can i get copies of any journal with articles (and photographs) with respect to aviation activities of the WAFF in Nigeria?

    • I have forwarded your enquiry to the editor of the journal, Keith Steward, who replies that he has information on the first plane to land in Kano in 1928 and the air route for delivering spitfires to the western desert via Khartoum from Takoradi.

  • Colonel Anthony Bennett

    My wife’s father, Major I N Kendal, DFC, Royal Artillery served in the WAAF in Nigeria in the late 1940s. We would welcome details of the existence of a WAAF association – if such a thing still exists!

  • My father served with the 82nd regiment in Burma and is currently writing his memoirs (he is 91). Please could you send details of how to subscribe to the journal as this would be of huge interest to him. Many thanks.

  • My father, Norman Turner O.B.E was in the Colonial Service in Nigeria for about 30 years, retiring in 1958 on Nigeria’s Independence. During the Second World War he served with the SOUTHERN NIGERIA REGIMENT of the WEST AFRICAN FRONTIER FORCE. I am trying to find out more about the details of his service, his rank etc and was very interested to learn of the existence of the WAFF Journal. I would be most grateful to be put in touch with the Editor to see if he could help me in my search. I have several artefacts of my father relating to the WAFF such as photos of him in uniform, uniform buttons, a WAFF palm tree brooch ( exactly like the one on the cover of the journal) and a brass figurine of a WAFF soldier in uniform – which my father always said was from the Officer’s Mess and was something he treasured. These artefacts may be of interest to the team at the journal.

    • Dear Carol,

      I have forwarded your enquiry to the editor of the journal, Keith Steward, who will be very interested to hear about your father.

  • Richard C Harris

    My fathers autobiography is just being printed, during the last war he served in Sierra Leone with the R.W.A.F.F. as a CQMS.. He did’nt get home till after VE day.

    • Many thanks for sending Cambridge University Library a copy of your father’s autobiography – The days before yesterday / Ron Harris. Pen & Ink publishing, 2017. I am sure it will be of great interest to many of our readers.

  • Kathleen Alfin

    Hello! I am a graduate student of African history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am just starting my thesis research with two daughters of veterans of the RWAFF during the Second World War. I would love to subscribe to the journal so as to further understand secondary literature about this military organization, as well as potentially connect about some people and primary sources that my be relevant to my research. How do I go about subscribing?

  • Dear Kathleen
    The journal is available directly from the Editor, Keith Steward, to whom I have forwarded your enquiry. I am sure he will be delighted to hear from you, and learn about your research.

  • I am trying to trace details concerning my father Sgt Albert Elsy who served in the RWAFF during WW2. he apparently was in Nigeria where the troops were assembled, then sailed to India landing at Cox’s bazaar (an island off the western side of India (apparently got malaria which affected him all his life), before travelling to Burma for the duration of the war in that theatre. Unfortunately all his badges (a spider in black on yellow background as I recall as a child) and metal brass Sgt’s stripes on khaki tie on, slouch hat with palm tree insignia etc.. were all stolen, as were training book, photos. So I have little to go on as to what he was involved in. Like all ex soldiers he never really talked about his experiences. all I have are medals. Any insight as to the RWAFF would be great.

  • Dear Sir / Madam
    My Father , ERIC George Butterworth served with the Royal West African Frontier Force during the war , not sure where he was stationed , I think that he was a Company Sergeant Major, he is now deceased and I was wondering whether you have any information on where he may have served .
    Thanking you in anticipation.
    Eric Butterworth

  • My grandad George William Austin was a CQMS in the Royal Wessex regiment and served in the RWAFF during the war. I have all of his photographs which contain a huge amount of interesting footage. I would very much like to find out more about him and also share the photographs if they are of interest.

  • Dear Sir/Madam,
    I would like to thank you for the wonderful job you have done by commencing the publication of this journal. My late father, Hyacinth N. Meze served in Burma. He originated from the part of West Africa that is Nigeria today.
    I would be grateful if I could lay my hands on his service records, photographs and any other material that would be useful for my research. I would like to find out if the journals would be made available in libraries outside England. I live in Scotland.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Hyacinth C. Meze.

  • Pauline Elliott

    Am trying to research Herbert Edward Hines on behalf of my mother in law. I have some photos of him wearing RWAFF uniform and also of him in Africa. He was born 26.01.1913 and was awarded the DCM and Military Medal. I believe he was involved with Chindits in Burma. Captured by the Japanese, spent time as a POW. Invalided out of the army. Would just like more information.

  • To Rachel Rowe,
    I have recently acquired numerous pieces of ephemera relating to the West African Frontier Force for the period 1920-1928.
    These all relate to one man’s service in Nigeria over this period.
    I am willing to share this.
    How do I contact Keith Steward? and obtain the journal’s?
    Iain Jarvis.

  • For the journal Editor

    I have recently seen a copy of the July 2017 journal in which you reproduce the photos and medals of 3 Worcestershire Regiment officers who served in West Africa and one who served in Somaliland “who should be recorded for posterity, if not here, where?”

    In case you were not told by the person who took the photographs where he acquired them, they came from the Worcestershire Regiment museum in Worcester.

    We hope that if photographs taken in the museum are published their source will be acknowledged.

    John Lowles
    Museum Volunteer

  • Chris Manning-Press

    I would like to hear about the RWAFF Association. I served with 1 Recce Squadron, RNA (1959-62) and was Brigade Major, 3 Nigerian Brigade, part of the UN operations in the Congo (ONUC).

  • Daniel Anane peprah

    Please, can you give names of the contingent from the gold coast army in the world war 2 of the rwaff. Again, I want to if this name is on Edward Christian Tchie who later became a minister of the gospel. Am doing research about him.

  • My grandfather served in RWAFF in Burma during WW2. I would love to know any information about him. I wonder if Keith Steward could advise.

  • My late father was a member of the Gold Coast Regiment and was sent to East Africa.

    I would like to subscribe to the journal.

  • Dr. Paul Onovoh

    Hi there!
    Great site! Many thanks.
    I am looking for information on Dee Ekeke Lolo of Akwete who served with British Royal Force as a soldier during WW1. It is only known in his family and community that he was a WW1 veteran but there is nothing else that can provide needed proof! Dee Ekeke Lolo, a charismatic spiritual leader, is also the founding father of Sabbath day worship in Igboland. Any information on dates of his military activities (enlistment and discharge), photographs, date of birth, and possible soldier number would be highly appreciated. I am presently involved in researching and recording the origins of the Igbo Sabbath Movement and in need of information that will throw light on the activities of Dee Ekeke Lolo, the man (and his philosophy of life under British occupation of his fatherland), husband and father, as well as a loyal colonial subject of British Empire, who enlisted (hopefully willingly) to defend the interest of the British Empire. Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.
    Paul Onovoh

  • My late father, Frederick.C.P. Shears was a Captain in the RWAFF in Burma during WW2. I have photos and personal papers, logs etc willing to share. Regards Ian

  • I have an oil painting by Anthony Brown (c1942/47), capt and adjutant of the Nigerian Regiment of the RWAFF, of lillies and herons on Lake Maiduguri. It belonged to my dad who was there for a time in WW2. I would like to know more and obtain the journal.

  • My father Major F.J.D.Ellis (Lt Col) was in the RWAFF from Nigeria during WW2. I am trying to fill in a few of the many missing details of his service.
    He was torpedoed twice. First was the SS Stentor of which there are some details available. I believe he was the last survivor rescued by HMS Ramsey after 8 or 9 hours.
    I am seeking information on the second.
    I am also interested if there was a relationship to the Eighth army. My father spoke of Montgomery and being in the desert.

  • Hello,

    I have been trying to get a hold of the editor for some time. Please could you forward this onto him as I need to speak with urgently regarding research for a script.

  • o Rachel Rowe ,

    I served in the RWAFF in the 50’s and would like to subscibe to the journal . so could you put me in touch with Keith Steward .

    With thanks ,

    John Savage

  • Janet (Blair) Coleman

    My Dad also served in Burma in the RWAFF – the Sierra Leonne Regiment. Sadly, he died at age 95 in 2013, but I have pictures of his British comrades and African solders he fought with – as well as letters they wrote to him after the war. Beautifully written. Also, a picture of a jungle grave site of a British soldier and tribute written by my father for that brave young soldier. Is there any way to find out a list of his fellow soldiers? I hate to think Dad’s memory of that fine young man will die with me one day. My Dad was mentioned in dispatches and had a trip to Simla as a reward for bravery according to my mother. I know nothing more. Is there a way I can find out what he did? Mother told me many years ago (she died in 1985) he had some medals or something but they are long lost and he never spoke of them. Thank you so much for any assistance. His name was Douglas William George Blair

    • Dear Janet,

      I will send you the contact details of the RWAFF journal editor, who may be able to help.

      Best wishes,


    • Janet, My father was also in sierra leone with the Rwaff before going to Burma. I too have photos of parachute drops, men fording rivers etc and a grave of some poor soldier who’s name is impossible to make out in the make shift cross they put on his grave. My father was a captain and eventually made it out from Burma down the Hoogli to Calcutta in a dug out canoe. He was then in hospital for several weeks before finally ending the war as adjutant in Poona. It would be fun to see if there are any similarities in the photos we have

  • My father served in Nigeria with the RWAFF during WW2. He was on the troopship “Orbita” when she broke down off Aden. Sadly he was then admitted to hospital with a heart condition and was invalided out of the army in 1945. He died in 1950 but I have a collection of his photographs and letters which he sent to his sister,my aunt. I treasure them.
    On the BBC Remembrance Day programme this year (2019) a Nigerian veteran of the RWAFF was featured, to my interest.
    I would very much like to be put in touch with the RWAFF journal editor.

  • George Robert Dickins – WW1 Medals
    He was my fathers brother. Misspelling of Dickens instead of Dickins not unusual.
    Private George R. Dickens, 7th Battalion London Regiment entered the France/Flanders theatre of war on 18 March 1915. As a Lance-Corporal with the the battalion he was awarded the M.M. for bravery in the field. Later as a Serjeant on attachment with the Nigeria Regiment, W.A.F.F., he died in Nigeria on 11 January 1919, aged 22 years. He was buried in the Zungeru Cemetery, Nigeria. He was the son of George and Annie Dickens of 188 Old Street, London.
    I would say this is quite an unusual history due to the time spent in Nigeria which according to a map (I have a copy) from a book about the Zungeru Colonial Settlement. This appears to be about guarding an important railway/road junction presumably from the Germans who had colonies in Africa.

    Military Medal, G.V.R. (2662 L. Cpl., 1/7 Lond. R.) with ornate silver pin-backed top bar; 1914-15 Star (2662 Pte., 7-Lond. R.); British War and Victory Medals (2662 Sjt., 7-Lond. R.).

    He is mentioned on page 81 of History of the 7th Battalion.

    Listed on the St Lukes School (Old Street) Roll of Honour.

    The Islington Museum seems to have no interest in securing his medals and I am looking for somewhere to donate them.

    Any ideas?

  • please arrange to get me a copy oif the journal

    • Dear Len,

      I will send you the contact details of the editor of the RWAFF journal, who will be interested to hear about your uncle and can arrange for a subscription.

      Best wishes, John

  • E. Gabriel OGBEIFUN


    I am trying to trace activities and engagement of my grandfather Edward Aisedion Ogbeifun. He was with the Nigerian Regiment of the West African Frontier Force. We have reasons he served in Burma with the 82nd Division or so. Did he? Any document of names?

    I will appreciate your help.


  • E. Gabriel OGBEIFUN


    I am trying to trace activities and engagement of my grandfather Edward Aisedion Ogbeifun. He was with the Nigerian Regiment of the West African Frontier Force. We have reasons to believe he served in Burma in WW2 with the 82nd Division or so. Did he? Any document of names?

    I will appreciate your help.


  • My uncle, 173030 Lt Geoffrey James Drew, formerly of the 1 Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, was sent in 1941 to take responsibility for training the Gold Coast Regiment, RWAFF in Jungle Warfare to prepare them for the Burma Campaign. I have albums of photographs of his time in Accra and surrounding areas. When on the troopship heading to Burma in Aug 1942 he contracted Blackwater Fever and was put ashore at Durban where he died and was buried in Stellawood Military Cemetery. I was told by my father, Geoff’s brother, that he was highly respected by his battalion because at his military funeral Geoff became the first white British Army Officer ever to have a squad of black Gold Coast soldiers fire three volleys over his grave.

    I would be very interested to receive the RWAFF Journal and to be in contact with Keith Steward, if possible.

  • Ogbole John Acha (Moses Enyigbe)

    Please contact to help realise my research into my father’s tracks at RWAFF, he later made officer commission in the NA. He is OGBOLE JOHN ACHA from the Nigerian contingent. Thanks and hoping to get a favourable response.

    • I have forwarded your enquiry to Keith Steward, Editor of the Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force. I hope he may be able to assist you with your research.

  • Alastair Cameron

    My late father was seconded to RWAFF in 1943 and joined 12th Battalion Nigeria Regiment. He took part in the second Chindit campaign. Please could you put me in touch with the editor? Many thanks

  • My grandfather was in the RWAFF during WWII fighting in Burma. We don’t know much about what he did or saw as we got very little from him apart from “I have seen things a man should never see and done things a man should never have to do”
    I would love to find out more about the RWAFF during the war especially in Burma.
    I have an old cap badge but don’t know if they wore a beret or what type of headress as I would like to put it on something next to my RAF beret.

    • I have forwarded your enquiry to Keith Steward, General Secretary RWAFF Association, and editor and founder (in 2011) of the Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force. I have just learned from Keith that the RWAFF wore a slouch hat with a palm tree in front. The left side was usually turned up.

  • Peter Thorley

    My father, Major Joseph J Thorley served with the Frontier Force after WW2. We have a silver & enamelled cigarette case with the RWAFF crest on the face & a photo of my father in summer uniform but no other details. Can Keith Seward throw any light on this for me – when & where my father served etc.

  • Please put me in touch with the magazine. I served in Sierra Leone from 1953.2nd Lt Worcestershire Regiment

  • Stephen Blockley

    Could you kindly forward my request to Keith Steward:

    My late father Edwin Blockley from West Yorkshire served with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone and later in Assam. He was in the 1st HAA Battery I believe, his number 1490186, LI6DR (?). He survived the war, never talked much about his experiences, and suffered regularly from malaria like many others. I have no information about his unit’s operations and would appreciate any information available.

    Many thanks in advance!

    • Dear Stephen

      I will forward your email to Keith Steward. I am sure he’d be delighted if you also wished to subscribe to the Journal of the Royal West African Frontier Force.

  • To aid research on British Yeomanry Bands, I’d be keen to hear if Keith has any information on Bandmasters of the Gold Coast Regiment during the Second World War. I understand that Frank Hartley, a Yeomanry Bandmaster in the late 1940s – early 50s, served with the Gold Coast Regiment around the war years.
    If Keith could confirm or advise I should be most grateful.
    Thank you – Mike Boxall

  • Hello,

    I have just come across this collection as I am conducting research on behalf of a local society who used to employe the services of Sergeant Major Churchley.

    So far we have located his marriage certificate form 1943 where it says he was serving (or had served) with the the Royal West African Frontier Force.

    I was wondering if Mr. Steward might have any records regarding this individual and advise me on how best to obtain copies of the information for a short bio in our society’s records.

    Thanks in advance.

  • My father served in the 81st West African Division in WWII. He was a Signals NCO and finished as WO1, Foreman of Signals. He started in Nigeria, the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, where they went from village to village, recruiting specialists to train as morse signallers (another key skill was boat building and operating). He said that the West African signallers were the best he had ever come across and was a firm believer in Africans having a “natural sense of rhythm”. I asked how they recruited the signallers: “Wherever we went we asked who the best drummers were – they were the ones we wanted”. Of course they had a great sense of rhythm!
    The Division, when recruiting was over, shipped first to India and then played a key role in the Burma campaign.
    The Division’s badge was the spider – Anansi and the soldiers greatly enjoyed the movies made in America for the Black population. “Ain’t nobody here but us chickens!” was a part of the daily banter.
    I remember my father telling me that the African soldiers were told to keep their shorts on while bathing. The local villagers were told that they had tails and ate babies. I thought at the time that this was a racist joke. I then found a post online from a Ghanaian veteran who said it had been a brilliant idea, the villagers were terrified of them and as they advanced their reputation preceded them and spread to the Japanese, who were likewise terrified.
    Other than stories like this my father did not talk about the conflict, though my brother has the letters he sent home at the time.

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